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Don’t Be a Ghost

April 16, 2013
Ghosts can be fun, but not when you're looking for a job.

Ghosts can be fun, but not when you’re looking for a job.

I talk about branding at many different events, with the idea that you should control your personal career brand, and make an effort to improve it. As more and more employers look to validate your experience and verify your skills, having a strong brand helps you to stand out amongst the competition. The cost of a bad hire is high, and companies are trying different things all the time to reduce the chance they’ll make a bad hire.

I’m not the only one that thinks you should have some brand out there. Troy Hunt wrote a piece about being a ghost programmer and how it hurts your career. It basically talks about how a programmer that doesn’t leave any kind of trail on the Internet is not likely one you want to hire. There are all sorts of reasons someone might not have a blog, or participate on a site like Ask SQLServerCentral, but many of the reasons are signs that a person isn’t really working efficiently. I’m not sure I completely agree with this interpretation, but I do think that the less information a potential employer can find about you, the more reason they might have to ignore your resume and move on to someone who they can perform more due diligence on.

I completely understand the desire for many people to keep their lives private. There’s nothing wrong with that, though it can be detrimental to your job search. However you can overcome some of this, but maintaining some documentation about your projects, skills, thoughts, and providing that along with your resume, or as additional proof to your resume when requested. You can even use anonymous handles on the Internet, providing them in the same manner you have “references upon request” on your resume. They can be sent in an instant, but they aren’t public. I’d even make a note on my resume to that effect, if I were inclined to maintain more privacy about my career.

You don’t have to be a Jon Skeet or an Iris Classon, but you should have some information you can share about your career when you are looking for a job. If you don’t, you might never know how much it impacts your job search. After all, is your phone not ringing because you aren’t qualified or employers just don’t know if you are?

Steve Jones


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